COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — As fresh starts go, it was something to celebrate. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery knows it was just the first step of many.
Jarrod Uthoff and Aaron White each scored 18 points to lift the Hawkeyes past No. 20 Ohio State 71-65 Tuesday in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
“You can take a lot (out of it),” McCaffery said. “We beat a ranked team, on the road and kind of led wire to wire, and we fought when we had to fight. If you’re going to be a good team in this league and an NCAA tournament team, that’s what you’ve got to be able to do. Now we’ve got to do it again. And again.”
The Hawkeyes (10-4, 1-0) never trailed after the opening minute, leading by as many as 12 points in the first half and holding on when Ohio State (11-3, 0-1) applied pressure at the end.
“We came into this game expecting to win. And we played like it out there,” Iowa point guard Mike Gesell said. “You could see it in our confidence. Right away we jumped on them and we were able to hold them off the rest of the way.”
The Hawkeyes hit their first five shots from the field against Ohio State’s 2-3 zone, including both 3-pointers, and added 5 of 6 free throws in taking a 17-5 lead in the opening 4 minutes. White, an Ohio native cheered by a throng of family and friends, had seven points and Peter Jok five in the quick spurt.
A strain running through all of Ohio State’s losses has been a miserable first half. Their undoing against Louisville (a 64-55 defeat) and North Carolina (an 82-74 loss) was practically a template for the Hawkeyes: Come out aggressive, pound the boards, hit shots and push the Buckeyes around.
“We’ve obviously got to get it figured out,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. “Giving up 17 points in the first 4 minutes is not acceptable.”
Iowa led 43-31 at the half but Ohio State came back. D’Angelo Russell, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer at almost 18 points a game, returned from sitting out with four fouls and drilled a 3 with 3:25 left to cut the Hawkeyes’ lead to 63-60.
But almost immediately, Iowa’s Josh Oglesby drove to the heart of the lane and hit a pull-up jumper. After Russell missed another 3, Uthoff took an assist from White and hit a 3 from the right corner to make it 68-60 with just over 2 minutes left.
“(Oglesby) knocking down the shot which was big,” White said. “Jarrod hit some big shots. You can go down the line, pretty much everybody had a big play.”
With Ohio State battling to draw closer, Uthoff hit a long, looping jumper late in the shot clock to seal the outcome. The Buckeyes never got closer than five again.
“We just had an aggressive mindset from the get-go,” Uthoff said. “That’s the way we need to play all the time. That’s why we won the game.”
Sam Thompson had 17 points and Russell 13 for the Buckeyes.
BIG HOLE: According to STATS.com, the Buckeyes’ 12-point halftime deficit was their biggest at home since Feb. 17, 2010, when they trailed by 13 to No. 4 Purdue.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: Matta on his team’s troubles: “We’ve got to look at the film and say, how do we get better? What do we have to do? We can’t make the mistakes that we made defensively. It was mind-boggling at times the things we did.”
Iowa: The Hawkeyes aren’t used to opening Big Ten play on the road. This was the first time they had to travel for their first conference game in six years. Coincidentally, that trip was also to Ohio State, which hung a 68-65 loss on them on Dec. 31, 2008.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have the most home wins nationally since the 2009-10 season with a 99-9 record. They are 28-4 at Value City Arena since the start of last season.
But Iowa accounted for two of those defeats on their last two trips to Columbus.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes return home for their next two games, hosting Nebraska on Jan. 5 and Michigan State on Jan. 8.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes host Illinois on Saturday, giving them 13 of their first 15 games at home.
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